Silky-smooth cop-thriller, Woods's first since Chiefs (1981)- -only this one's set not in the author's usual deep South (Palindrome, 1990; Grass Roots, 1989, etc.), but in N.Y.C., where Stone Barrington, lawyer-turned-cop, must solve the case of a skydiving celebrity. It's a case because veteran-skydiver/TV-news-star Sasha Nijinsky wasn't wearing a parachute when she dove from her 12th- story penthouse as Stone, passing by, watched in horror. Was she pushed? Stone wants to ask her but can't--not because she's dead, although everyone but Stone assumes she is (he thinks her skydiving skills may have kept her alive), but because she's missing: the ambulance that picked her up crashed, and when the smoked cleared, Nijinsky was gone. The police brass want Stone to find her or her body fast--and whoever might have pushed her. Stone combs the city (drawn in high glitz as the action veers from Elaine's to the Four Seasons to the U.N. Plaza) and digs out three likely culprits: snooty Barron Harkness, whose TV-anchorship Nijinsky coveted (and whose sexy assistant, Cary Hilliard, soon shares Stone's bed); creepy Herbert Van Fleet, an upscale necrophiliac undertaker who'd written thousands of love letters to Nijinsky; and stoical Hank Morgan, a lesbian makeup artist who was carrying on with the missing star. When evidence points to Morgan, the brass, hungry to close the case, railroad her arrest--leading to her suicide and, because of his expected protest, to Stone's dismissal from the force. Embittered, Stone hires on with a top law firm, only to work on a case that shows him the dark side of sexy Cary--but not nearly as dark as what awaits him when he gets a written invitation from Nijinsky to join her in Van Fleet's secret chamber of horrors.... Stylish suspense among the gray-flannel/black-velvet set, with a winsome hero and agreeable dollops of sex, gore, and demented mayhem: Woods's best since Under the Lake.